Punjab CM dedicates 2nd phase of Jang-E-Azadi memorial to the nation

March 06, 2018 11:36 PM

KARTARPUR (Jalandhar): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday dedicated to the nation the second phase of the world-class Jang-e-Azadi memorial, while announcing an allocation of Rs. 25 crore for the completion of the third phase in the forthcoming budget and sanction of Rs 9.5 crore towards the pending arrears for Phase I construction.

Congratulating the team behind the unique concept, led by Ajit newspaper Managing Editor Barjinder Singh Hamdard, Captain Amarinder lauded the initiative as an iconic step towards imbuing the new generations with the spirit of India’s independence struggle.

Captain Amarinder also appreciated former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for his vision in giving to the state two prestigious projects, including Jang-E-Azadi at Kartarpur and War Heroes Memorial at Amritsar.

The Chief Minister assured the Jang-e-Azadi Memorial Committee, which also comprised noted historian Dr Kirpal Singh, besides Dr J.S. Grewal, Dr Jaspal Singh, Prof Pritipal Singh Kapur, Dr K.L. Tuteja and Dr Harish Sharma, of his government’s full support for the completion of the next phase of the memorial, which will always stand tall as a mark of respect and love for the tens of hundreds of Punjabi martyrs of the freedom struggle.

Speaking on the occasion, Captain Amarinder directed the Memorial Committee to allow free entry for the families of all freedom fighters, and also asked it to depute tour guides to educate children about the monument’s significance. The Chief Minister suggested inscription, on the monument, of the names of all freedom fighters from Punjab who had sacrificed their lives in their selfless service to the nation.

Recalling his post-Tsunami visit to the Andaman and Nicobar islands to undertake rehabilitation work there, the Chief Minister said that he was really moved on reading the names of the martyrs, including thousands from Punjab, who had made the supreme sacrifice in Port Blair jail.

Pointing out that this memorial would go a long way in invoking a sense of patriotism amongst the young generations, the Chief Minister recalled his own maternal grandfather Harcharan Singh Jaijee’s close association with the pioneer of Praja Mandal Movement S. Sewa Singh Theekriwala, which continues to inspire him even today.

Earlier, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar urged the Chief Minister to issue directions to the Education Department to make visits by school students to the memorial and other such historical places mandatory to imbibe in them a passionate spirit of patriotism. Freedom fighters did not belong to any political party, nor could they be cast in the narrow confines of caste, colour, creed or religion, said Jakhar, calling upon the people not to fall prey to politicians who used them as vote banks.

Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said the Jang-E-Azadi memorial would be a bridge to connect the younger generations with their glorious legacy of patriotism. Describing it as an ideological symbol rather than a brick and mortar structure, he said it epitomised the supreme sacrifices made by our great martyrs and freedom fighters.

Sidhu sought the personal intervention of the Chief Minister in directing the Education Minister to make mandatory the study of the biographies of India’s iconic freedom fighters and martyrs, such as Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Madan Mohan Malviya and Ram Prasad Bismil, in order to rekindle the spirit of nationalism and patriotism amongst youngsters.

Welcoming the Chief Minister, Barjinder Hamdard said the monument depicted 100 years of the struggle of the Punjabis. In the second phase, six galleries were being dedicated to the nation, he added.

Among others present on the occasion were Cabinet Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Advisor to CM BIS Chahal, Member Parliament Chaudhary Santokh Singh, MLAs Rana Gurjit Singh, Kuljit Singh Nagra, Pargat Singh, Navtej Singh Cheema, Rajneesh Babbi, Ramanjit Singh Sikki, Harminder Singh Gill, Dr. Raj Kumar Chabbewal, Rajinder Beri, Bawa Henry, Chaudhary Surinder Singh, Sushil Rinku, Sangat Singh Gilljian, Angad Singh, Darshan Lal and Santokh Singh Bhalaipur, MD MARKFED Amarjit Singh Samra, Avtar Henry, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Joginder Singh Mann, Sarvan Singh Phillaur, Former Lt. Governor Iqbal Singh, Principal Secretary Tourism Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma and CEO Jang-E-Azadi foundation Vinay Bublani.

Sikhs Abroad

Greg Pence receives overwhelming support from Sikh community

March 19, 2018 08:55 PM

FISHER (INDIANA): Sikh Political Action Committee on Sunsday hosted a fundraiser function in support of Greg Pence, elder brother of USA Vice President Mike Pence. Greg is contesting for Congress from 6th district of Indiana.
A large number of Sikhs and other community members gathered to extend support to Greg Pence. The Sikh Community, specially from Central Indiana, got together to demonstrate their overwhelming support to Greg Pence.
Involvement of Sikh Community in political activites  is aimed at informing that Sikhs are hardworking, successful businessmen and professionals in different fields and work for development of all communities, districts, states and the country.
They asserted that since they are now settled in USA and are doing good business and are professionals in all fields. It is time to involve in political activites so that the youth can contribute more by joining the Army, Police and Federal level. The sikh leaders raised the issue of the  Sikh community, specially the immigration issue.
Mr Gurinder Singh Khalsa, founder chairman of Sikh Political Actiion Committee, established two years ago, said that the Sikh community was involving at political level and supporting the candidates at state and Federal level.
"The Sikh community, specially from Central Indiana, gathered here to support Greg Pence who is a Congress candidate from 6th District of Indiana. We will continue to support those candidates who listen to us and support our youth so that they can come forward."
Mr Khalsa cautioned that those communities which do not engage themselves politically, remain backward. SikhPAC is overwhelmingly support and endorse  Greg Pene.
Earlier, Jodhbeer Singh Khalsa and Sukhmanat Kaur Khalsa greeted Greg Pence and Denise Pence with bouquet of fresh flowers to kick of a successful fundraiser by the Sikh Community of Central Indiana. They were accompanied by Greg’s sister, Janie Pence.  
Robert Bonifess and Janice, Janice Christiansen, Gurinder Singh Khalsa, Dr Bijender Kumar, Dr Amandeep Singh, Kuldeep Singh, Racchpal Singh Dhillon, Ajay Singh Grewal, Gurpreet Singh Malhi, Kanwal Sidhu, Baldev Singh Thind, Ravi Pal, Laxma Reddy and Sarandeep Kaur were among those present on the occasion.

Punjab News

STF report on drugs cooked by Navjot Sidhu in league with my estranged cousin Harpreet Sidhu: Bikram Majithia

Bikram Singh Majithia addressing press conference
March 18, 2018 10:37 AM

CHANDIGARH: Former minister and SAD general secretary Bikram Singh Majithia today said the purported STF report released by Local Bodies minister Navjot Sidhu yesterday was a cooked up fabricated document which had been prepared by the Sidhu and Son’s Company along with their kitchen assistant and STF head Harpreet Sidhu, who was also his estranged cousin brother.

Referring to Navjot Sidhu and his wife as “Bunty-Bubli duo” while talking to newsmen here, Mr Majithia said the couple had committed the gravest contempt of court by breaking seals of the report which has been sealed by none other than the High court. “They have obstructed the course of judicial delivery”.

Stating the report was leaked by the couple yesterday after realizing its failed final outcome, Mr Majithia said this was done deliberately to dilute the effect of the apology rendered to him by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The Akali leader said by disclosing the report yesterday, the Sidhu couple had exposed the truth of the STF report – that it was false report prepared by the Sidhu team and not the STF. “I thank them for themselves exposing the conspiracy to misguide the honourable high court”.

Referring to the main protagonists in this entire case, the Akali leader said “Sahib, Bibi and Woh” should tell Punjabis when and where the report was prepared, who was its author, what were its ingredients, what was the role of his estranged brother Harpreet Sidhu, who broke the seal of the report and who leaked it in time to coincide with the apology submitted by Arvind Kejriwal to him? It must also be cleared as to which version of Sidhu false team report is this - per submission or post submission.

Talking about the report, Mr Majithia said what was said by the Sidhu duo was old, discarded, junked and procured statements which were already part of court proceedings and were rejected when adjudicated upon time and again. He said the demand of a CBI report by Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa and other vested interests was dismissed by the then honourable chief justice. He said an SIT was also formed on the directions of a division bench which was submitted to the court in a sealed cover and still stood sealed. “Even AAP before apologizing to me tried its luck in the high court based on hearsay and rejected documents and faced dismissal of its case. Earlier in 2013 when the case was registered by the SAD- BJP government all central agencies which investigated it were under the Congress led UPA government”.

Asking if the Sidhu couple were above the high court, the former minister said he had unshakable faith in God and utter faith in the judiciary. “Every single time I have been delivered justice by our honourable courts. I have been open to any kind of free and fair inquiry and always cooperated with all inquiries to ensure truth prevails”.

Stating that the Sidhu duo practiced double standards, he said the allegations pertained to the time when the duo used to be in and out of his house. “Mrs Navjot Sidhu used to call me brother and the Local Bodies minister was on record to having thanked him profusely for helping him win his Lok Sabha seat”. He said now a convicted murderer, who had never opened his mouth against him till November 2017, was passing judgments on the verdicts of the court and everyone else. “I challenge Sidhu to take the khichdi he has prepared to the court and he will realize how contempt proceedings are initiated for breaking seals”.

Punjab Politics

Kejriwal submits apology for defamation, Punjab AAP leaders stand by drug charges against Majithia

March 15, 2018 11:11 PM

CHANDIGARH: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday apologised to former Punjab Minister Bikram Singh Majithia for alleging the latter's involvement in drug trade in the state, following which the SAD leader said he will withdraw his defamation suit. Punjab unit of AAP however expressed anguish over Kejriwal's decision.

The Chief Minister withdrew his allegations and an application regarding the same was filed in a trial court in Amritsar, where a defamation case filed by Majithia against Aam Aadmi Party leader Kejriwal on May 20, 2016, is being heard.

Punjab AAP leaders who were stunned by the action of Kejriwal described the Kejriwal's step a surrender and stood by the allegations against Majithia. Sukhpal Khaira leader of opposition in Punjab said that AAP MLAs will meet tomorrow to discuss. He said that Punjab unit was not consulted before submitting apology.

"This proves that they were raking up the issue to tarnish my image and harm me and gain politically," the former Punjab Minister, who is the brother-in-law of Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal, told reporters here. "I will withdraw the case, which I had filed for what is right and for my own and my family's honour."

Majithia said another Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashish Khetan too had submitted his offer of regret.

In the letter, Kejriwal said: "In the recent past, I made certain statements and allegations against you regarding your alleged involvement in the drug trade. These statements became a political issue.

"Now, I've learnt that the allegations are unfounded. Hence, there should be no politics on such issues.

"Because of my allegations made against you at various political rallies, public meetings, TV programmes, print, electronic and social media, you filed a defamation case against us in the Amritsar court.

"I, hereby, withdraw all my statements and allegations made against you and apologise for the same," the letter read.

A statement quoting Majithia said: "It's human nature. Mr Kejriwal has displayed great courage to admit his mistake and move on. I thank him for this gesture. However, I want all politicians who seek votes on the basis of lies to realise what they are doing. This is not good for our society."


Punjab assembly in Pakistan passes bill to regulate Sikh marriages

March 15, 2018 12:17 AM

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly in Pakistan on Wednesday unanimously passed the 'Punjab Sikhs Anand Karaj Marriages Act 2017', a legislation that will provide legal status to Sikh marriages in the province.

The bill was tabled by provincial minister Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora in 2017 and was signed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif last week, Dawn News reports.

The legislation will come into force immediately after it has been approved by the Governor.

According to the legislation, a marriage ceremony, or Anand Karaj -- which is defined as "the lawful union of a Sikh male and Sikh female" -- will be performed in accordance with the religious practices as permitted in the Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib.

A "marriage deed", a legal document authorising the matrimonial union, will then be issued by a registrar who will be appointed by the Punjab government.

Arora, while presenting the bill in the assembly, observed that "Pakistan (will be) the only country in the world that would register Sikh marriages" once the measure is adopted.

Hitherto, the records of Sikh marriages were only maintained in a Gurdwara.

Civil Aviation

DGCA orders grounding of 8 IndiGo, 3 GoAir aircraft over engine issues

March 12, 2018 10:23 PM

NEW DELHI: Citing safety concerns, the aviation industry regulator on Monday directed public carriers IndiGo and GoAir to ground a total of 11 A320neo aircraft fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines.

Out ot the 11, eight are operated by IndiGo while GoAir operates three, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a statement here.

With this, all the A320neo aircraft with PW1100 engines beyond serial number 450 have been taken off operation in India.

DGCA said: "Both IndiGo and GoAir have been told not to refit these engines, which are spare with them in their inventory."

The directive came immediately after an IndiGo A320neo VT-ITA flight reported engine failure and had to make an emergency landing at Ahmedabad following take off from the same airport on Monday.

Previously, the DGCA had ordered grounding of 3 units of IndiGo's A320neo fleet after the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had on February 9, 2018, issued emergency airworthiness directive regarding A320neo fleet the world over fitted with PW1100 engines (with serial number of 450 and beyond).

As per the directive, EASA has imposed restrictions "on grounding of aeroplanes having two affected engines within three flight cycles", the agency said in statement on Monday.

The agency also restricted the use of aeroplanes having at least one affected engine for "extended operations".

Clarifying its position, Pratt & Whitney in a statement said: "We are working closely with our customers to minimize disruption. The corrective action has been approved and we have already begun to deliver production engines with the upgraded configuration."

Punjab Government

Punjab Vigilance nabs ASI taking bribe of Rs.10,000

March 06, 2018 11:32 PM

CHANDIGARH: Punjab State Vigilance Bureau, today nabbed ASI Narinder Singh red handed while accepting bribe of Rs 10,000.

Disclosing this here an official spokesperson of the Vigilance Bureau said ASI Narinder Singh posted at Sadar Police Station Phagwara, Kapurthala was nabbed red handed on the complaint of Bhupinder Singh of Pratap Nagar, Ludhiana. The Complainant has approached the VB and alleged that the accused ASI was demanding Rs 25,000 to exclude his name in a criminal case registered at the police station and the deal was struck at Rs. 10,000.

After verifying his information, the Vigilance team laid a trap and the accused ASI was arrested on the spot taking bribe of Rs. 10,000 from the complainant in the presence of two official witnesses. He informed that a case under Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against him at VB police station Ludhiana and further investigation was under progress.

World News

N. Korea urges US to hold dialogue without strings

March 04, 2018 08:52 AM

PYONGYANG: North Korea on Saturday urged the US to hold dialogue without any precondition. A dialogue with Washington is possible, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement, Xinhua reported.

"It is the consistent and principled position of Pyongyang to resolve issues in a diplomatic and peaceful way through dialogue and negotiation," the Korean Central News Agency quoted the official as saying.

The spokesperson said North Korea wants dialogue "designed to discuss and resolve the issue of mutual concern on an equal footing between states."

"In the decades-long history of the North Korea-US talks, there has been no case at all where we sat with the US with any precondition, and this will be the case in future too," he said.

However, while Pyongyang intends to resolve issues in a diplomatic and peaceful way, it will "neither beg for dialogue nor evade the military option claimed by the US," he said.

Dismissing the United States putting denuclearization as a precondition for dialogue as "more than ridiculous", he claimed Washington is "terrified" at the rapid development of Pyongyang's nuclear force.

According to media reports, a high-level North Korea delegation in South Korea said last week that Pyongyang is leaving the door open for dialogue with the US.

However, Washington says it will not have dialogue with Pyongyang unless "a right condition is met" and will keep watching to see if Pyongyang has any intention to abandon its nuclear and missile program.


Astronomers detect water in Saturn-sized exoplanet's atmosphere

March 02, 2018 03:55 PM

WASHINGTON: Astronomers have detected a large amount of water in the atmosphere of a hot, Saturn-mass exoplanet some 700 light-years away. The planet, known as WASP-39b, has three times as much water as Saturn does, NASA said on Thursday.

Though no planet like this resides in our solar system, WASP-39b can provide new insights into how and where planets form around a star, the researchers said.

Located in the constellation Virgo, WASP-39b whips around a quiet, Sun-like star, called WASP-39, once every four days.

The exoplanet is currently positioned more than 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun. It is tidally locked, meaning it always shows the same face to its star.

Using NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the astronomers analysed the atmosphere of the "hot Saturn" exoplanet and they captured the most complete spectrum of an exoplanet's atmosphere possible with present-day technology.

By dissecting starlight filtering through the planet's atmosphere into its component colours, the team found clear evidence for water vapour.

Although the researchers predicted they would see water, they were surprised by how much water they found -- three times as much water as Saturn has.

This suggests that the planet formed farther out from the star, where it was bombarded by icy material.

"We need to look outward so we can understand our own solar system," explained lead investigator Hannah Wakeford of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and the University of Exeter in Devon, Britain.

"WASP-39b shows exoplanets can have much different compositions than those of our solar system," said co-author David Sing of the University of Exeter in Devon.

"Hopefully this diversity we see in exoplanets will give us clues in figuring out all the different ways a planet can form and evolve," Sing said.

The day-side temperature of WASP-39b is a scorching 776.7 degrees Celsius. Powerful winds transport heat from the day-side around the planet, keeping the permanent night-side almost as hot, according to the researchers.


Akali Dal(Mann) holds Khalistan conference on Holla Mohalla

March 01, 2018 07:23 PM

Sukhbir Badal announces to gherao Punjab assembly on first day of budget session
ANANDPUR SAHIB: The Akali Dal(Amritsar) headed by Simranjit Singh Mann today held 'Khalistani Conference' at Holla Mohalla here and also displayed Khalistan posters at the venue. The SAD(Badal also held a political conference while Congress and AAP stayed away from the festival.

The Akali Dal(Amritsar) demanded immediate arrest of culprits of sacrelege of Guru Grnath Sahib and stop the drug menace in Punjab. The party flayed Indian Government for not giving due respect to Canadian President Justin Trudeo during his recent visit to India. It said that it was an attempt to push Sikhs away from Canada. The party also demanded immediate announcement to hold general elections of SGPC.

Shiromani Akali Dal(Badal) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today announced to gherao Punjab assembly on first day of budget session in protest against farmer suicides and non-fulfillment of promises made with people by Congress party before assembly elections. Newly formed Bahujan Mukti Morcha also joined hands with Akali Dal(Mann) for the conference.

While addressing political conference on eve of historical Holla Mohalla festival here Sukhbir Badal said that Capt Amarinder Singh government had came to power by making false promIises with the people of Punjab. He said that SAD stood like a rock behind the farmers who are victims of present government. Expressing concern over rise in suicidexs by farmers, he blanmed Congress party for making false promise of loan waiver. He said that loan waiver promise was false and forced farmers to end their lives.

Sukhbir Badal warned Capt Amarinder Government against installing power meters at tubewells used for irrigation purpose. He said that SAD would start agitation if meters were installed. He called upon SAD workers to oppose installation of meters.

Speaking about the Congress government, the SAD president said while the SAD- BJP government had ensured free power facility to farmers during the last ten years, the Congress government was set to impose power bills on farmers soon. He said the Congress government had closed down each and every welfare benefit be it old age pension, Shagun scheme or scholarship scheme for scheduled caste students. He said the government had even closed down 800 schools besides refusing to host the annual World Kabaddi Cup.

Sukhbir Badal flayed Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal for criticising SAD government for raising Sikh memorials. He said that Manpreet Badal had alleged that Rs.2000 crore of public funds were wasted on Sikh memorials. He said that Manpreet Shall be shamed of his statement. He defended SAD deicision to raise Sikh memorials to preserve the rich history of Sikhs.

Union minister and BJP Punjab president Vijay Sampla described how all work had come to a standstill. He said far from fulfilling any of its promises, the Congress government had snatched away benefits given to the people by the earlier SAD-BJP government.

Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra while speaking on the occasion said it was surprising that the State cabinet recently decided that it would not allow goonda tax and illegal mining to continue in the State. “This means both these activities were going on rampantly during the last one year”.  He said the state of affairs in Punjab were such that employees had advertised a look out notice for the chief minister because they were unable to meet him since months.

Others who addressed the conference included SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal,  Bibi Jagor Kaur and G.K.Singh president Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.


State honours for Sridevi's funeral as lakhs gather to bid farewell

February 28, 2018 10:52 PM

MUMBAI: Lakhs of people joined film stars and celebrities to bid adieu on Wednesday to the first lady superstar of India Sridevi, who was cremated here with state honours amidst outpouring of grief by her fans.

Sridevi's daughters Janhvi and Khushi performed the final rituals before the body was consigned to flames in the electric crematorium in Vile Parle with husband Boney Kapoor standing by.

The funeral, marking the final journey of Sridevi, who died due to drowning in the bathtub of her hotel room in Dubai on Saturday night, was one of the largest in recent times in Mumbai city.

It started near her residence before reaching the crematorium after a three-hour long journey in a tall, open truck, fully decorated with white flowers -- her favourite colour -- with the body being draped in the national tricolour and carried in a glass casket, as cries of 'Sridevi Amar Rahe' by her fans rent the air.

Maharashtra government accorded full state honours for the funeral of Sridevi -- who was conferred a Padma Shri in 2013, which included draping her body in the national tricolour, elaborate arrangements by the Mumbai Police and a gun salute before the cremation.

Inside the truck was Sridevi lying serene with full make-up, a large south Indian style vermillion and wearing a ceremonial gold and maroon coloured Kanjeevaram sari. A heavy, large necklace adorned her since she died a 'suhaagan' (one whose husband is still alive), giving the appearance of a resplendent 'devi' (Goddess) in deep slumber.

Her grieving family members including husband Boney Kapoor, her step-son Arjun Kapoor and brothers-in-law Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor were among those who travelled in the truck with the body.

The truck slowly negotiated the approximately six km passing through some of the poshest areas of Andheri and Vile Parle suburbs, with a massive portrait of Sridevi visible from a distance.

Several lakhs of people including students, office-goers and others accompanied or waited on both side of the roads, looked on from buildings and bungalow terraces. Many climbed on signals and lamp posts for a last glimpse of their beloved heroine.

In terms of sheer numbers, Sridevi's funeral is estimated to have attracted the highest number of mourners, ranking on par with the previous biggest funeral processions of the legendary singer Mohammed Rafi (July 1980: around a million mourners), and India's first superstar Rajesh Khanna (July 2012: a little less than a million mourners).

The other big funerals of non-political personalities in Mumbai included those of Raj Kapoor (June 1988) and Vinod Khanna (April 2017).

The procession was led by several family members, close relatives, friends and even neighbours of the Green Acres society where the family lived in Lokhandwala Complex.

Among the prominent personalities who attended the funeral in Vile Parle were Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Randhir Kapoor and others who came to bid a final goodbye to Sridev

Earlier, since dawn, thousands of teary-eyed fans and admirers of the late actress, many carrying flowers, had queued up outside the Celebration Sports Club at Lokhandwala Complex for a final 'darshan' of their idol.

After the flower-bedecked body was brought to the club premises a steady stream of celebrities came in their vehicles and where whisked inside to pay their last respects.

Among the early callers seen were Rekha, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Arbaaz Khan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Akshaye Khanna, Tabu, Farah Khan, Nitin Mukesh, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vidya Balan, Sushmita Sen, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Deepika Padukone, Sanjay Leela Bhandsali, Jackie Shroff, Farhan Akhtar, Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan, John Abraham, Ajay Devgn and Kajol, Anupam Kher and Sulabha Arya, among others.

In the past four days since her demise, the Kapoor household had witnessed a steady stream of visitors including Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Krishna Raj Kapoor.

Most of the visitors on Wednesday were sporting dark sunglasses to ward off the harsh early-summer glare, carrying flowers or small bouquets, embraced and consoled the bereaved family members, entering from the main entrance and leaving quickly from the other side as fans tried to catch a glimpse.

Sridevi's body was flown to Mumbai from Dubai where she passed away following an accidental drowning in a bathtub in her hotel room around 11 pm on February 24, and from the airport was taken to the Kapoor residence in Green Acres.

Meanwhile, Green Acres housing society on Wednesday cancelled Holi celebrations as a mark of respect for Sridevi.

For the final journey, at the club and the crematorium, the Mumbai Police implemented elaborate security arrangements at various venues and arranged special traffic and crowd management measures.

Punjab Government

Illegal mining and Goonda Tax collection a reality in Punjab, CM order police to crack down

Capt Amarinder Singh
February 28, 2018 06:22 PM

CHANDIGARH: The illegal mining and collection of Goonda Tax in Punjab is a reality and finally Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday admitted in an official meeting even though the Congress party was in denial mode so far.

Capt Amarinder Singh today ordered the DCs and SSPs to crack down in full force to put an end to all illegal mining and the so-called ‘goonda tax’, which he said must be stopped with ‘full firmness and strict action.’

Addressing a meeting of the Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police of the various districts here, the Chief Minister issued strict instructions to the officials not to entertain any intervention or recommendation (sifarish) while taking action against illegal mining or goonda tax, but to stringently follow the rules.

The Chief Minister instructed the officials to list out all legal contractors, with both police and civic administration, and ensure that legal mining operations are conducted as per the rules and regulations. Any complicity or involvement on the part of the police or administrative personnel in such activity will not be tolerated, he warned, making the SSPs directly responsible for illegal mining.

With respect to the ‘Goonda Tax’, which he described as ‘totally illegal’, Captain Amarinder called for stern action, making it clear that his government would not tolerate any laxity on this count.

The time to procrastinate was over, said the Chief Minister, adding that after one year in office, there could be no excuse for any laxity in putting an end to all illegal businesses and corruption. He directed the officials to pursue the big fish more aggressively so that the process of cleansing the system could be strengthened, with the right signal going down to the lowest levels.

The Chief Minister underlined his government’s commitment to tackle corruption at all levels and stressed the need for DCs and SSPs to work closely together to improve the processes and systems. He urged the officials to make extensive use of IT for monitoring of works/applications received. He further directed them to undertake regular checking and inspection of subordinate offices.

During the meeting, the Chief Minister also directed the officials to ensure stringent enforcement of the war against drugs through a coordinated campaign by the Special Task Force (STF) and the district police. The two should work closely, with strong focus on proper rehabilitation of the addicts, said the Chief Minister, emphasising the need for concerted efforts in wiping out drugs completely from the state.

Congratulating the district administration for the excellent arrangements made for wheat procurement, the Chief Minister said very good work had been done during the last procurements. He called upon the DCs to ensure that all preparations for the forthcoming season are completed in time. There should be no harassment of the farmers by the agencies or the arhtiyas etc, said the Chief Minister, calling for reduction in rates to break the cartel of transporters.

The Chief Minister also underscored the need for proper implementation of the recently launched Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojana, directing the officials to work with passion to take the fruits of development to the last and most needy person. Instructing them to try to cover all eligible persons by March 31, the Chief Minister urged them to ensure total transparency in the execution process.

The Chief Minister also reiterated the need for cordial relations and regular interaction between the government officials and Congress MLAs/workers to ensure successful implementation of all government programmes and policies.

The meeting took note of the success of the ongoing job melas, which had recorded 85,000 new registrations for 55,000 jobs. It was decided that the next job melas would be held in September-October, 2018.

Prominent among those who attended the meeting included; Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Special Principal Secretary to CM Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Home NS Kalsi, Additional Chief Secretary Agriculture Viswajit Khanna, Additional Chief Secretary Housing & Urban Development Vini Mahajan, Additional Chief Secretary Taxation MP Singh, Principal Secretary Food & Civil Supplies KAP Sinha, Principal Secretary Health & Family Welfare Anjali Bhawra besides DGP Suresh Arora, DGP Intelligence Dinkar Gupta, DGP Law & Order HS Dhillon and ADGP STF Harpreet Singh Sidhu.

Chandigarh News

Chandigarh court awards 25 year jail to five gang rape convicts

February 28, 2018 03:25 PM

CHANDIGARH: A chandigarh court on Tuesday awarded 25 years rigrous imprisonment to five persons who abdicted and raped a 17 year old girl of Mauklio Jagran near here.

The incident dates back to September 11, 2015 when the five convicts abdicted the girl in their car when she was returning from tution. She was student of 12th class. She had told the police that she managed to reach at a relatives home at 11 pm and narrated the ncident. She was medically examined and all the accused were arrested immediately. The police had booked them under section 363 for adbduction and 376 D (gangrape) of IPC besides section 4 penetrative sexual assault and section 12 sexual harrassment of the protection of children from sexul offences(POCSO) Act.

The convicts have been identified as Chandershekhar 18 of Railway Colony, Bansi 35 of Mani Majra, Surjit Singh 35 ans shekhar Rana 20 of Faidan village and Sahil Verma 22 of sector 68 Mohali. The additional session judge Poonam R Joshi had held them guilty on February 23 last.


Facebook unveils local news accelerator for publishers

February 28, 2018 12:50 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: To help "metro newspapers" take their digital subscription business to a new level, Facebook has launched a local news accelerator for news publishers.

The $3 million, three-month pilot programme titled "Journalism Project: Local News Subscriptions Accelerator" will begin in the US with 10-15 metro news organisations.

"We are working with Tim Griggs, a former New York Times executive and leading digital media consultant, to helm the programme's curriculum focused on understanding digital audiences and building marketing plans for digital subscriber acquisition," Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Currently enrolled publishers include The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, The Seattle Times and The San Francisco Chronicle, among others.

When it comes to the future of journalism, digital subscribers are critical to the long-term sustainability of the news business.

"We know Facebook is one part of the strategy to engage readers and ultimately drive paid subscriptions," added Brown, a former NBC and CNN anchor who joined Facebook to lead its news partnership team last year.

Participating publishers will convene in-person once a month, receive coaching from digital subscription experts and participate in weekly trainings covering a broad array of digital subscriptions marketing activities, including but not limited to the use of Facebook.

"Working with programme coaches, publishers will then design individual projects that tackle their unique business needs. Grant funding will empower each publisher to implement solutions that help elevate their subscription business," Facebook said.

"The Accelerator has been designed by publishers for publishers," said Jim Friedlich, Executive Director of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

"The workshop and grant programme addresses one of our most significant opportunities for new revenue to fund local journalism. We look forward to sharing the learnings with news organisations worldwide," he added.

In a clear message to news publishers, Brown recently said it is not Facebook's job to recruit people from media organisations for the content on the social media platform.

At the "Code Media 2018" conference in California organised by ReCode, Brown said "her job is to make sure there is quality news on Facebook".

But "my job is not to go recruit people from news organisations to put their stuff on Facebook," she was quoted as saying.

Facebook in October launched a new programme that would allow publishers to sell subscriptions to their news sites on Facebook.

Facebook has also rolled out an update to its News Feed that will prioritise local news that have a direct impact on the users and they can discover what's happening in their area.

The update comes after the social media giant announced changes to News Feed that showed posts from friends and high-quality news sources.

In addition to prioritising local news, Facebook is also testing a dedicated section on Facebook that connects people to news and information in their community, called "Today In."


Nine arrested in high profile Chadha’s suicide case of Amritsar

February 28, 2018 11:33 AM

AMRITSAR: Nine people including ladies have been arrested by the Special Investigation Team of Punjab Police in the high profile  Suicide case of  Inderpreet Singh Chadha here today.

Police said that nine alleged accused arrested were Surjit Singh CA, Harjit Singh  Chadha (the real brother of deceased Inderpreet Singh Chadha), Lady Principal Ravinder Kaur  Bamarh and her husband Varundeep Singh Bamarh, Inderpreet Singh Anand, Umat CA,  Gursweak Singh, Kuljit Kaur and Mania.

All the alleged accuseds were arrested by the SIT at  Chandigarh which further handed over all the arrested persons to Airport Police Station Amritsar to produce them in the court.

However, Cahdha had committed suicide with his own licensee weapon while sitting in his own SUV car at DR Enclave colony near the Shri Guru Ramdas International Airport on January 3 this year.

Immediate after the incident Police has booked eleven alleged accused on the complaint filed by Prabhjit Singh Chadha son of Inderpreet Singh Chadha including the lady who were allegedly responsible and behind the suicide of his father under section 306 and 120 b of IPC abetment to suicide and conspiracy.

The FIR was lodged on the basis of suicide note which was left by the deceased before death wherein he had also leveled serious allegations against his own real brother Harjit Singh Chadha and his business partners and friends and also given details regarding the family property disputes.

However,Ravinder Kaur Bamarh was the same lady involved in sleazy video clip had filed complaint with police against Charanjit Singh Chadha (the father of the deceased) for outraging her modesty and sexual harassment.

Wild Life

101 designed elephants at first Elephant Parade India

India Elelephant Parade
February 26, 2018 06:29 PM

MUMBAI: Politicians, celebrities, artists and designers came together on Monday at Gateway of India here, where, in a stunning display, 101 artistic elephants have been assembled to celebrate the launch of the first Elephant Parade India.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inaugurated the parade along with Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, and Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and Parade Ambassador Poonam Mahajan.

"Having worked as an environmentalist and animal lover for so long, I was thrilled to be approached by the Elephant Family to support the same cause which we have been working on with People for Animals for Asiatic Elephants. It's important to us as over the past 100 years we've lost 90 per cent of Asian Elephants, and now as nature, the environment and human beings all co-exist together, awareness is now coming, and it is time for action.

"By showcasing these beautifully painted 101 elephants by renowned artists and designers all across the city of Mumbai we are bringing everyone together to increase that awareness. Through this initiative we'd like to raise significant funds to help India's 101 corridors for elephants, and build the crucial rescue centres around the forests that are so needed. This wonderful art exhibition we have launched is the first step and the exhibition is open to all Mumbaikars," Mahajan said in a statement.

Created as part of the UK India Year of Culture, Elephant Parade India is organised by Elephant Family, an international NGO dedicated to protecting the Asian elephant from extinction in the wild.

The elephants will be paraded across the city in a series of public art exhibitions and simultaneously be sold at an online auction on Paddle8, going live on Wednesday.

The sales generated through the online auction will raise funds to secure 101 crucial Indian elephant corridors, the pathways that elephants depend upon to get from one forest feeding ground to the next.


Sridevi died from accidental drowning: Report

February 26, 2018 05:27 PM

DUBAI: Indian actress Sridevi died due to accidental drowning in a bath tub in her hotel here, reports Sharing the image of the forensic report, the media publication stated that Sridevi, who had traces of alcohol in her blood, lost balance and fell into the bathtub and drowned.

Sridevi, 54, died on Saturday night. It was earlier reported that she died due to cardiac arrest.

According to sources, Dubai Police have released the forensic report on Sridevi's death to her family and the Indian Consulate representative.

IANS could not confirm the details of the forensic report.

The Padma Shri recipient was in Dubai to attend the marriage function of actress Sonam Kapoor's cousin Mohit Marwah, along with husband Boney Kapoor and younger daughter Khushi.

Born in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu on August 13, 1963, Sridevi began her career at the age of four in the devotional film "Thunaivan". That marked the beginning of a journey in filmdom that saw her work across Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi productions, leading her to become one of the most formidable actresses of the 1980s and 1990s in Bollywood -- in fact, the only female "superstar" the industry has seen.

She is remembered for her performances in some of the iconic Bollywood films like "Mr. India", "Nagina", "Sadma", "ChalBaaz", "Chandni", "Khuda Gawah", among many others in different Indian languages.

Sridevi, who made a comeback to Bollywood in 2012 with "English Vinglish" after a long break of 15 years, was last seen in "Mom" in 2017.


Sridevi's last moments in Dubai hotel room revealed

February 26, 2018 03:46 PM

DUBAI: Veteran actress Sridevi, 54, was getting ready at a hotel room in Dubai for a dinner date with her producer-husband Boney Kapoor before she suffered a cardiac arrest which led to her sudden demise, a media report said on Monday.

Boney flew back from Mumbai and went to her room at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel at around 5.30 p.m., on Saturday to "surprise" her with the dinner, a source close to the family told the Khaleej Times.

He woke her up and the couple chatted for about 15 minutes before he invited her for dinner.

The "Mom" star then went to the washroom. After 15 minutes had passed and Sridevi did not come out, Boney knocked on the door to check on her.

When he got no response, he forced open the door to find the legendary actor lying motionless in the bathtub full of water, the source said.

"He tried to revive her and when he could not, he called a friend of his. After that, he informed the police at 9 p.m.," he added.

The police and paramedics rushed to the site, but she was pronounced dead.

Her body was taken to the General Department of Forensic Medicine for an autopsy.

Sridevi, Boney, and their younger daughter Khushi Kapoor were in Ras Al Khaimah last week to celebrate the wedding of her actor-nephew Mohit Marwah.

Boney had returned to Mumbai after the wedding, but decided to return to Dubai to "surprise" his wife.

The autopsy was completed on Sunday evening and the body is expected to be flown back via a private plane to Mumbai on Monday.


Pakistan army uses loudspeakers to ask LoC residents to move away

February 24, 2018 10:46 PM

SRINAGAR: Panic gripped residents of border villages in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla district on Saturday when Pakistan army made loudspeaker announcements asking people living near the Line of Control (LoC) to move to safer areas.

The announcements were made by Pakistan army using public address systems when heavy shelling and firing was going on in the Uri sector between Indian and Pakistan soldiers.

Authorities in Baramulla district have pressed ambulances and other modes of conveyance into service to shift people living in these areas to safer places.

Officials said over 100 people were shifted to safer areas from villages close to LoC in Uri sector.

Already around 500 people have already left behind their homes, cattle and fields to move away from areas close to the LoC in Uri sector.

Reports said some houses have been badly damaged by Pakistan shelling in Silikote and Churanda villages of Uri tehsil.

National News

Jaitley rules out privatisation of state-run banks

Arun Jaitely
February 24, 2018 10:38 PM

NEW DELHI: Following the Rs 11,300 crore Punjab National Bank fraud by accused diamond trader Nirav Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday ruled out privatisation of public sector banks (PSBs), saying the move may not find political consensus.

In light of the PNB scam that has rocked the Indian banking system since February 14, the industry chambers Ficci, Assocham and CII have urged the government to surrender its majority control of banks and allow them to function like private sector lenders.

"This (privatisation) involves a large political consensus. Also, that involves an amendment to the law (Banking Regulation Act), as well as amendment in the political consensus," Jaitley said at the ET Global Business Summit here.

"My impression is that Indian political opinion may not find favour with this idea itself. It's a very challenging decision," he said.

Industry chamber Assocham said last week that the PNB scam should act as a "strong trigger" for the government to surrender its majority control of banks which should then be allowed to work on the lines of private sector lenders with a full sense of accountability to their shareholders and protecting interest of depositors.

Noting that recapitalisation of state-run banks over the last decade has had little impact on improving their health, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) called for their privatisation in the interest of creating "a dynamic banking sector" in the country.

Jaitley said the question of "moral hazard" comes up in using taxpayers money to recapitalise banks that are hugely stressed on account of their accumulated non-performing assets (NPAs), or bad loans.

The accumulated NPAs in the Indian banking system have crossed a staggering Rs eight lakh crore, with PSBs themselves accounting for over Rs seven lakh crore of bad loans.

In the face of this, the cabinet, in October 2017, approved a recapitalisation plan for PSBs worth Rs 2.11 lakh crore.

On Friday, Ficci President Rashesh Shah told reporters he had met the Union Finance Minister with a request to begin the process of bank privatisation in a phased manner, leaving just a handful of lenders in the public sector.

The Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian has also advocated more private participation in public sector banks.

Punjab Politics

Badal family is most corrupt, Navjot Sidhu describes them plundering decoits

Members of Badal family of Punjab
February 24, 2018 06:04 PM

CHANDIGARH: Reacting strongly to Sukhbir Badal’s brazen lies and ridiculous allegations against the Captain Amarinder Singh government, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) on Saturday lambasted the Akalis for looting the people of every single resource they could lay their hands on, during their decade-long misrule of the state.

Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu described the Badals as the most corrupt family in the country, terming them as plundering dacoits, who had robbed Punjab’s people of their very right to dignified living by plunging them into an abyss of ruin with their destructive policies.

PPCC president Sunil Jakhar said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has become the most corrupt party in the country under the control of Badals, and had been only interested in filling up their own coffers, with no concern for the problems faced by the people.

The Badals, notorious for their anti-people policies, were like termites, who had eaten into the state’s most precious resources and had also corrupted even their supporters, said Sidhu, in a statement issued here.

With 25 ministries in their kitty, the Badal family converted the government into their personal fiefdom, said Sidhu, charging them with destroying all democratic institutions with total disregard for Constitutional ethos. Democracy and freedom, under their rule, were confined to the `Badal Enterprise’, he added.

From mining to transport, from cable to hospitality, the selfish and greedy Badals took over virtually every business in the state, which they pilfered to their hearts’ content, getting richer with every passing year, while the people of Punjab battled with poverty and lack of even basic resources, the minister pointed out. He lambasted Sukhbir for persistently trying to mislead the people with falsehoods and fabrications.

The Akalis seized control of all the major businesses of the state the moment they came to power and spent the next 10 years plundering it, said Jakhar, adding that it was obvious that the party was still reeling under the shock of their ignominious rout in the Assembly elections last year, followed by a series of defeats in subsequent elections, including Gurdaspur bypoll and MC polls.

What had probably shaken them further was the successful implementation of promises by the Captain Amarinder Singh government, despite the financial mess it inherited from the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime, said the two Congress leaders.

Sukhbir’s desperation to undermine the work being done by the Congress government was getting manifested in his absurd statements and ridiculous behaviour, said Sidhu, describing it as a sign of total loss of his mental balance, resulting from the oblivion into which the Akalis had been pushed by the people of Punjab.

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